Most countries found the COVID-19 pandemic very challenging, with some places even struggling to get through, facing high numbers of deaths, and others struggling with a tanking economy. Although the UK was going through one of the worst struggles, along with a few other countries, people were still aspiring to move to the country. According to a report, the United States and the United Kingdom were the worst affected countries when it came to the number of people infected by the virus and the number of deaths in a country in the first several months of the virus spreading globally.
Since the world has not seen anything like the Coronavirus before, with what started as an infection turning into an all-out pandemic, they were learning about it and spreading information as and when they received it. In the initial stages of the pandemic, the Government in the United Kingdom was doing their best to protect the people in the country. They started by implementing restrictions on travel in and out of the country since they did not want more people coming into the country with the virus. To reduce the spread of the virus within the country, they implemented national lockdowns, wherein the people in the UK were not allowed to leave their homes unless it was an essential service. Companies and other public services significantly reduced, and most of the companies had to have their staff work remotely if they wanted to get anything done.
The unemployment rate in the UK was at a steady 3.9% with predictions that it would double in the first few months, by getting closer to double digits by the end of the year, however, the UK managed to surprise everyone with an unemployment rate of 4.9% considering everything happening in the country. With the national lockdown, companies were not sure how they would meet their targets, and they were letting go of their employees. Although the government was creating schemes to assist businesses, with the furlough scheme benefitting 8.4 million workers across the UK, companies were still finding it hard to get through, with many of them shutting down. The Government was spending a massive £15 billion across the country to assist businesses. They were paying 80% of the salaries of employees, with their employers paying the difference, to protect the economy and reduce the number of people losing their jobs.
Companies who could not work in person were the ones facing most of the challenges. With the changes taking place, a large number of companies in the UK were remote working, with few exceptions. Companies that could not remote were taking all the services they could, online and working on the rest as they got the chance. Many industries like construction, hospitality and maintenance were either marked as essential services by the Government or were waiting for the situation to get better before they could begin working.
The situation was especially challenging for people who travelled to the UK from another country. The requirement to live near the company hiring you was no longer mandatory or even a significant concern. Most of the people that companies were working with were getting their tasks done from home, which allowed companies to pick the best. Many people were working remotely overseas to meet the expectations and deadlines of employers in another country, or in some cases, a different continent.
Most people working in hands-on jobs and tasks were the worst to deal with during the pandemic. Construction came to a complete halt during the pandemic, with people working in the industry waiting for the rules to be lifted and not sure what else they could do. The scene was especially tough for people working in similar industries if they were hailing from other countries. One of the challenges that they could work on was ideally pivoting into some form of work that was beneficial. Across the UK, as with many other companies, there was a booming up of companies dealing with cleaning offices and other professional services.
With high unemployment in the UK, one of the most significant changes by most of the employers when hiring a new team was conducting a background check. These checks were quite challenging when hiring people from other countries. There were simple and easy to coordinate tests for people from the UK since the UK Government already had their information and details. The challenge when coordinating a background check on Americans in the UK was getting it done with an agency overseas. They had to go through an application process to get a ‘criminal records check’ or ‘Certificates of Good Character’. The rules for gathering this information varied depending on the country that the person was from, but for people from the United States, the employer or potential employer had to apply in the country or with the relevant embassy in the UK. One of the primary requirements was having lived in the country for more than 12 months after 18 years. It should be mentioned that all was not bleak and there were a large number of companies in the UK that were hiring, especially in the tech space.
In most cases, if the employer is not handling the test, it makes sense for the person from America to have the information ready, along with their documents and portfolio since they are then in a better position to show it to potential employers or clients, giving them enough information when they are picking them.
There were other changes like providing a COVID certificate, getting all their documents together when submitting their information for a job, and these changes made a significant difference when applying for a job. Depending on the job that they were applying for, they would have to provide a more detailed background check. The most interesting part about the process was that contractors could work for bigger establishments, so they had work. Furthermore, a lot of the work that contractors handle was moved to essential services since electrical work or plumbing was a requirement for people even when locked down.